Early college recruiting: Securing future or hasty decision?

sports column by kellyndaly

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The Daly Dose: Kellyn Daly ’16

When someone thinks of college recruiting, something similar to the events in the popular movie “The Blind Side” might come to mind.

 

One might picture 20 different coaches lining up to watch a practice and fight for the same athlete. But, in real life, it’s much different than this. The recruiting process is confusing, messy, and easily all-consuming.

Every year, countless high school athletes begin pursuing their dream of playing at the college level. While chasing this dream, high schoolers and their parents can get caught up in the recruiting process.

Recruiters have pursued young athletes more and more aggressively in recent years. Girls on my summer softball team have been committed
to colleges since their freshman year. Football players are recruited as early as seventh grade. This is crazy. There shouldn’t be any kind of urgency to make a college decision before you have figured out how to be a high schooler, and college recruiters should wait to see how an athlete will develop past their major growth spurts.

This new trend of recruiting has countless downsides on both ends of the recruiting process. As an athlete, I understand the desire to know your future college plans, but what is the urgency in committing before you’ve even played two seasons of a high school sport?

Few 15-year- olds truly know what they want for their future, which is essential to picking college decisions. My own personal plans for the future have changed countless times over the past four years. If I had chosen a college as a freshman, I would have picked a school because of their pre-veterinary program rather than a school with a respected English program; I would have been terrified to look at a school with a population any bigger than 10,000; and the cafeteria food would have played a much larger role in my decision process.

Athletically, I was nowhere near my full potential as a pitcher. If I had been pressured into making a decision too young, I wouldn’t have strived to play at a school with a competitive program. These risks will always remain present when high school athletes have to make a college decision before they’re ready.

On the coaching side of the recruiting process, there are a number of unpredictable events that could happen between an athlete committing and actually playing at the college level. A young athlete could peak in her development soon after committing, she could decide that she doesn’t enjoy playing that sport anymore, or she could have a career ending injury. Personally, if I were making an investment of $1,000 to $200,000 on an athlete, I would want to be absolutely certain that it’s a secure one.

In past years, the NCAA has tried to address this problem. They shortened the recruiting window a few years ago, but it didn’t last very long. If this problem is going to be resolved, they will need to put restrictions on how early schools can make offers, whether official or not.

As I blindly navigated my way through the recruiting process, almost every coach admitted to hating early recruiting. However, they don’t have much choice if they want to compete within their conferences.

This cycle of early recruiting needs to end. Coaches don’t want to risk losing the best players to other teams, and prospective athletes don’t want to risk a school’s roster filling up before they can contact a coach. Something needs to change soon, but someone is going to have to make the first move.

 

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